October 24, 2019 / 12:36 PM / 22 days ago

GLOBAL MARKETS-Stocks rise, euro bows for Draghi's farewell

(Updates prices throughout; adds detail, updates prices)

* European stocks at highest in over a year

* ECB set for Mario Draghi’s final policy meeting

* 2018 Tesla shares jump 21%, Microsoft gains, too

* Investors ignore earnings miss from Caterpiller, Boeing

*

By Marc Jones

LONDON, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Europe’s traders were sending European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi off in style on Thursday, raising the region’s stocks to their highest in more than a year and nudging the euro towards its best month since January 2018.

Upbeat earnings from Microsoft and Mercedes maker Daimler, along with a ceasefire in northern Syria had also lifted the mood, though trade and Brexit uncertainties and some below-par German data prevented more sizable gains.

The list of landmarks was nevertheless still impressive. The pan-European Stoxx 600 rose 0.3% to its highest since May 2018. Germany’s DAX wasn’t far behind and the euro, although a shade lower, was consolidating its 2.1% October advance at $1.1130..

Wall Street futures were higher, Asia had cheered a one-year high for Tokyo’s Nikkei and MSCI All World index , which tracks nearly 50 countries, was at its highest since late July.

“Draghi is in a situation where bond yields are higher and the collapse we saw over the summer is reversing, the euro has steadied itself and everything is fine, except for the PMIs of course,” said Societe Generale’s Kit Juckes. “And he’s handing over an empty monetary policy toolkit.”

The ECB’s statement brought little new news. The bank said last month it would restart stimulus. But the focus was firmly on Draghi’s 1230 GMT final wisdom, seven years on after his ‘whatever it takes’ promise, calmed the euro debt crisis.

There won’t been any champagne in Frankfurt though. Inflation remains well below the ECB’s target and the purchasing manager data had shown business activity in the euro bloc stagnating again in October.

Germany’s export-dependent manufacturing sector also remained in contraction, suggesting a third-quarter slowdown in Europe’s largest economy could stretch into the closing months of the year.

“Things are really not getting any better yet. A slight improvement in October PMIs can’t mask the fact that growth has almost stalled. The overall picture is one of a feeble economy,” said Bert Colijn at ING.

The data had also knocked the wind out of the euro after it had started the day brightly, but bond yields were broadly steady and there were plenty of other things going on too.

The Swedish crown rose 0.7% after its central bank stuck with plans to raise its interest rates in December. Its gains pulled the Norwegian crown higher as well, despite a relatively dovish message from the Norges Bank which left its rates unchanged.

Turkey was the real mover though. It slashed its rates 250 basis points to 14% from 16.5%, a day after U.S. President Donald Trump lifted sanctions on Turkey following a ceasefire in northern Syria.

ELECTRIC DREAMS

On Wall Street third-quarter earnings reports remained center stage with investors trying to gauge the fallout from a prolonged U.S.-China trade war, which has already shown up in the domestic economy.

On Wednesday, the Dow and the Nasdaq added 0.2% each and the S&P 500 gained 0.3%. Tesla shares jumped 21% in after-hours trading after the company reported an unexpected third-quarter profit.

Microsoft was looking good too after posting forecast-beating profit and revenue numbers after the closing bell, although the outlook was darkened by slower-than-expected take-up of its Azure cloud services.

Shares of Boeing Co and Caterpillar Inc meanwhile had ended about 1% higher each despite big earnings misses.

“We have been down this road before with CAT,” RBC Capital Markets’ chief economist Tom Porcelli said in a note titled Still Waiting For Recession. “If you keep saying a recession is here, it is a mathematical certainty that at some point you will be right. Maybe try again after CAT’s next quarterly earnings report.”

So far, results from about 125 of the S&P 500 companies are out with analysts expecting earnings to have declined 2.9% year-over-year, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

BREXTENSION

Sterling paused at $1.29 after rising 0.3% on Wednesday. After more than three years, Britain appears closer than ever to resolving its Brexit conundrum but still has hurdles to clear.

EU member states on Wednesday delayed a decision on whether to grant Britain a three-month Brexit extension. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said if the deadline is deferred to the end of January, he would call an election.

“The Brexit battle looks like it will drag on,” economists at ANZ wrote in a note, summing what most weary Westminster watchers were feeling.

With the euro treading water, The Japanese yen was 0.1% higher at 108.6 per dollar and the Australian dollar was weaker at $0.6842.

The dollar index was lower at 97.452 against a basket of six major currencies, heading for its worst month since January 2018.

In commodity markets, oil steadied above $61 a barrel on as concern over the demand outlook offset a surprise drop in U.S. crude inventories and the prospect of further action by OPEC and its allies to support the market.

Brent crude was unchanged at $61.17 a barrel, having jumped 2.5% on Wednesday. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was down 10 cents at $55.87 and gold barely budged at $1,491.50 an ounce.

Reporting by Marc Jones Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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